Grit and miracle seem small words to describe the story of the Indian Army soldier, Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad, the lone survivor of an avalanche at the world’s highest battlefield, Siachen Glacier, on February 3.Currently comatose, Koppad is battling for life at the Army Research and Referral hospital here where he was flown in Tuesday morning. His liver and kidney are dysfunctional and he is “expected to have a stormy medical course in the next 24-48 hours”, is how the Army described his condition in a health bulletin.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Koppad, who got buried with nine other fellow soldiers of the 19 Madras Regiment, was pulled out alive on Monday night from under the 25-30 feet debris after after six days even as the average temperature at the location is -30 degree Celsius in daytime and below -55 degrees during night.This, when no less than Prime Minister Narendra Modi, defence minister Manohar Parrikar and Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag had given up hopes and had already passed condolence messages for the 10 bravehearts.A 800 feet by 400 feet ice wall fell on their post named Sonam located at an altitude of 19,500 feet in the northern glacier of Siachen. Mortal remains of eight other jawans and a junior commissioned officer have also been found.”In the ongoing rescue operation at Siachen, of the 10 soldiers buried… (one) has been found alive,” Udhampur-based Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda said in a statement on Monday.”On recovery from the debris, he was found to be conscious but drowsy and disoriented. He was resuscited by doctors at the site and then flown out first by a helicopter to the Siachen base camp, from there to the Partapur military hospital in Jammu and Kashmir and finally flown in to Delhi in an Indian Air Force C-17 aircraft,” Army said.More than 150 rescuers, aided by personnel from the Siachen Battle School and Leh-based Army Mountaineering Institute, were involved in a round-the-clock operation to locate and pull out the soldiers since February 3. Aircraft belonging to the Army Aviation Wing and IAF made more than 250 sorties to carry the special equipment for the operation, including deep-penetration radars capable of detecting metallic objects and heat signatures at a depth of 20 metres and radio signal detectors.Officials said that specialised rescue dogs, snow-cutters and rock drills were used for the rescue.”The rescue team was itself strained as their efforts were frequently hampered by high intensity winds and blizzards. That Koppad could be extricated out of the debris after five days is more than a miracle,” a senior Army officer who monitored the search and rescue told dna.”He either found a natural air pocket around his face or made one by rolling his hands as is the drill for such a situation,” said the officer.More than 850 Indian soldiers have died at Siachen Glacier since the Indian Army first reached there in 1984.PM visits HanumanthappaPrime Minister Narendra has hailed Lance Naik Hanumanthappa as an “outstanding soldier” whose “endurance and indomitable spirit” cannot be described in words. Modi visited the Army’s Research and Referral hospital to see Hanumanthappa soon after he was airlifted from Siachen and prayed for his best. “A team of doctors is attending to Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. Just before visiting the hospital, the PM tweeted: “Going to see Lance Naik Hanumanthappa, with prayers from the entire nation.”It’s a rebirth for us, says jawan’s wifeThe family of Hanumanthappa left for Goa from where they would take a flight to Delhi on Tuesday evening to be with him. Mahadevi, wife of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad, said the family was going through a painful ordeal after the members came to know of the tragedy, but the news of his survival brought smiles back on faces. “We were going through a painful ordeal after the avalanche struck…The news of his survival brought smiles back on our faces. We were all crying and almost lost hope. I didn’t know what to do – I have one-and-half-year old girl child,” she said.
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